San Mezcal

By Rodrigo Diaz Guerrero

On Calle de Recreo, before reaching Parque Juárez —if you come from the Jardín Principal, there is a place you enter as if it were a mysterious and irresistible portal—entering a universe where the agave is the deity that surrounds everything, which one must trust oneself without doubts or reservations. “You are born with sin, you die with holiness, and on the way, you drink mezcal,” can be read on the wall as a kind of prayer, a warning, and a command. As a reminder of how brief our existence is, we must seek to make it pleasant. This is the space of Julio Hernández, from San Miguel, a master mezcalier. After a dream, engendered in his love for distillates, he opened San Mezcal together with two friends. It is a small palace dedicated to the drink that has opened its doors to all lovers for more than five years. Every year, this spirit finds more followers all over the world.

Hernández confesses that his first taste of mezcal was at age 15—secretly, at a party at his grandfather’s house, when he was a curious adolescent. He did not know that this epiphany would move him to search for labels within his reach.

Today, in the San Mezcal bar, you will find more than 120 labels of the famous distillate from the nine states with denomination of origin, sotol, bacanora, pox, raicilla, and craft beer. It is a true passion of arduously going out of town to find the best for his clientele. Its cocktail bar is a kind of variation on the classic mezcal cocktails. It has a personal touch  within the space such as the Amnesia cocktail (mezcal, natural pineapple juice, cardamom, lemon, and natural syrup). Or the Mezcal Mule (a variant of the classic Mule with mezcal and a touch of fernet which highlights the flavors of the distillate).

San Mezcal also has a wonderful kitchen led by chef Jason Malloff. He has designed an eclectic menu with ingredients from different latitudes for the perfect pairing—such as the spinach salad with citrus vinaigrette, truffle oil white, crispy leeks, and Parmesan cheese. Or the chicken torta in a panko crust, chile and miso mayonnaise, and pico de gallo. This is a restaurant-bar specializing in Mexican spirits with quality food and an experimentation of flavors and ingredients. A detail is the mezcal. They can serve you with a plate of orange slices and worm salt, but the touch is to accompany it with a plate of green tomatoes with smoked salt.

In San Mezcal, as Hernández tells us, it is about each person finding himself within the flavors and textures of the different distillates of Mexico.

San Mezcal is located at Recreo 88, Centro, open Wednesday to Saturday from 3 to 11pm, and Sundays and Mondays from 3 to 10pm.